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Help Selecting A Quality Stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by RossB, Oct 4, 2013.

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  1. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Had to be 400#...I'm still sore now.

    Just finished sanding all 4 walls floor to ceiling and heading for the hardware store to score some paint. Work, work, work...Christmas is coming FAST!

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  2. RossB

    RossB Member

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    So...I was about to upload a few more pics of my progress and it occurred to me that this is a forum for wood burning...not home improvement projects. I started off just looking for advice on which stove I should select, and having received some very helpful advice, I purchased one. I suppose that should have been the end of the story. I thought I might keep this thread alive long enough to at least light the stove and provide some feedback on my experience, but it sure is a long time coming. It turns out that the simple decision to add a woodstove to your home is not nearly as simple as one might think. Certainly not in my case anyway. There seems to be a great deal of ancillary activity.

    So I hope this thread has some value to someone considering a stove installation and I appreciate the latitude this forum has afforded me to share the story. I really hope that at some point in the future, my posts will actually involve burning of wood.
  3. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Busy night...last night. I've been looking at the bluestone slab for a few days now and really wanting to move forward with the installation. Lining up and extra body or two to put it into place has been proving problematic due to work schedules. So, during a moment of weak judgement, I decided to attempt it myself. With the slab still on edge, I lifted one corner and had my daughter slip a piece of round 1/2" bar stock under it. This allowed me to roll the slab the remaining foot into the corner of the hearth. I wasn't exactly confident in the precision of my brick work or the cut of the slab so I really wated to dry fit it before even considering mortar. Besides, I wasn't even sure that I'd be able to shift it into position once I laid it down. Mortar wouldn't help that situation. So, having positioned a cardboard box on the hearth to cushion the impact if I wasn't able to hold up the slab, I attempted to lower it into place. The first 45 degrees went pretty well, but the transition from lifting above the waist to below the waist was a bit sketchy. I was able to support the weight so I had my daughter pull out the cardboard box and I was able to lower the slab gently into place.

    IMG_1242.JPG

    After some pushing and pulling, I was able to get it tight up against the brick and looking pretty good. So good, in fact, that I thought I might just skip the mortar all together and leave it right here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013
  4. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Thinking this might just be good enough...I stepped up onto the slab to see if it was resting solidly. Unfortunately, it noticeably rocked from front to back as I shifted my weight. "Surely it won't rock once I put the stove in place" I thought to myself, dreading the idea of lifting the slab up again. Then I laid on the floor to look at the fit between the bottom of the slab and the 3rd course of bricks on the front edges. I didn't like it; a 1/4 to 3/8" gap with no mortar was not great to look at. Of course, you'd have to lay with your face right on the floor to actually see it, but being an anal retentive nut job, it just wasn't going to work for me. The slab would have to come back up. The good news is that the rear edges of the slab and the brick walls mated up nice and tight.

    So I summoned all of my strength, and like the middle-aged Olympian I imagine myself to be, I picked the slab up and leaned it against the wall. The crowd went wild!

    Out into the driveway in the black of early evening, I set about mixing up a batch of mortar. I dragged in my mortar board and whipped up about 20 perfectly shaped turds of black mortar. I then positioned them in a continuous line on top of the 3rd course of bricks to ensure a nice joint and then in 10 strategic positions across the cinder blocks. Once I had used all 40lbs of mortar, I jumped up to drop the slab in place before the mortar could set. Confident in my ability to actually support the weight of the slab, I was able to lower it with much less fanfare this time. Once lowered, I scooted it into the corner and made sure that it was tight against the brick faces. Then I put the 4ft level on it and set about smacking various spots with the big orange deadblow hammer to get it level. Unfortunately, the surface area of the slab and the volume of the mortar under there seemed to render my hammer useless. The slab wasn't moving. Fearing that the mortar was drying and I might end up with a crooked slab, I went to the next bigger hammer at my disposal...me. I used the level to find the high spot and then I jumped up and down on thethat spot until it came down...move the level...jump up and down...level...jump...repeat.

    In the end, it was just about perfectly level in all directions and completely solid...no rocking of any kind.

    IMG_1248.JPG

    I went outside and used a block of wood to push the 4" pipe for the Outside Air Kit back into the house (I had pushed it out so it wouldn't obstruct the installation of the slab) and then I installed the flexible feed tube which will connect to the beack of the stove. I also installed the power outlet. I'm not 100% sure that the outlet won't melt, but I figure I'll give it a try. It's in a solidly grounded metal box so the risk is low and I can always put a metal blank cover on it later if it proves problematic.

    IMG_1250.JPG

    Since ceiling fans seem to be an important component of a well rounded woodstove heating system, I figure these are germane to the story as well. Painted the ceiling and added 2 new 52" fans this week as well.

    IMG_1244.JPG

    Riding high from my success with the slab, I decided to start painting the walls last night as well. Wife came home and joined in the fun.

    IMG_1251.JPG
    I'm sure some folks are cringing at the idea of painting over the knotty pine in this room, but we've been looking at it for alot of years and we're ready for a change. On top of that, I'll be installing a hardwood floor in the next couple of weeks and it just seems like too much wood...like wearing blue jeans, a denim shirt, and a denim jacket...sometimes, its just too much of a good thing. We didn't want the room to feel like the inside of a shipping crate.

    IMG_1210.JPG
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013
  5. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    Nice work man!! Your NOT going to need that baseboard heating in there anymore! ;)
  6. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    That's me for sure. lol You wrecked that freakin room. Just kidding, but I def would have left all the wood. To each his own though.
  7. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    I really appreciate the play-by-play on all these projects. Just poking around another thread (a VC rebuild - start to finish) - I'll probably never own a VC, but still amazed at the time and effort folks here will devote to documenting their work for others to see. Kudos.

    It would have been a crying shame to see that slab crack under the weight of the stove, etc. especially after all your hard work to date. Glad that's taken care of.

    I love knotty pine - I'm kinda with logger on that one. I probably would have built us another Possum Lodge (Red Green) for our addition, but my better half is not quite so keen on that. Fair enough. We did a "blue stain" pine / whitewash on the ceiling, and drywall on the walls. Turns out I like it a lot. Your room looks great - no need for regrets.

    FWIW, we also have 2 ceiling fans (52") in the stove room and even on crawl speed they really move the air around, I think you'll appreciate having them there.

    You're on the home stretch. Very nice job...
  8. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Yeah...I'm struggling myself with the painting of the pine. I've always liked it and people always comment on it, but the honey finish just didn't go well with the new floor and it was a bit incongruous with the rest of the house. We were definitely ready for a change in there. Worst case scenario is that I miss it in a few years and I replace it all when I replace the windows...maybe an accent wall or something. I cringed a little bit with every brush stroke of the white primer over the freshly sanded pine. I'm trying to reserve judgement until it's all finished. I saw some rooms painted this color on the internet and liked them a lot.
  9. RossB

    RossB Member

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    WooHoo! Two guys from work just offered to come over my house tomorrow morning to help me move the stove into place! Looks like Christmas is coming early for me.
  10. RossB

    RossB Member

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    So...knowing that 2 guys from work were coming over to help me move the stove...I looked around and realized that my place was a total dump. I've managed to pull out just about every tool I own over the last few months of projects and scattered them every where...not to mention a thick coating of dust on every surface. This was simply not acceptable. The wife and I spent all afternoon and evening cleaning the place and then I decided to stay up late and paint the room with the first coat of paint.

    My boys showed up promptly at 8:00AM and I had already been prepping for a while. The plumb bob was hung from the chimney pipe and I had plywood protecting the brick face and the slab so we wouldn't mark it up during the move. The 3 of us were able to pick up the stove and set it perfectly in place in about 60 seconds. They took off and I installed the chimney. I think I'm actually ready to start a fire. Unfortunately, it's just too warm and it's been raining outside most of the day. I don't want to cook us out of the house. I'm hoping the temps will drop overnight. They've been threatening us with 2-4" of snow tongiht.

    IMG_1265.JPG IMG_1263.JPG
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  11. Machria

    Machria Minister of Fire

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    That's exciting! I would light it anyway! Your going to need to leave all the windows open the first burn anyway, to burn off the paint and chemical smells. Go for it!
  12. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    I just picked up this thread, great job! Throw a few pcs of newspaper in and snap a shot we'll never know the difference ;lol.
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  13. RossB

    RossB Member

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    One thing that is puzzling me is the paper that's pasted to the griddle on top of the stove. It's apparenly soaked in cooking oil and I can't seem to peel it off. It's just coming off in tiny pieces. Anybody know the magic recipe for removing it?
  14. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Very nice - looks great. My 2c - take it for a test drive. As Machria says, open the windows and do the burn in fires. Congrats on a nice install and all the awesome work...
  15. cableman

    cableman Feeling the Heat

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    Looks great! Light her up! Wish i was this far with mine, i havnt touched mine but i did just order my bluestone mantels.
    Were you putting mantels on top of the brick?
  16. RossB

    RossB Member

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    So I lit up the stove this morning with a little bit of kindling just to see if everything was tight...

    The dog showed up within 2 minutes to see what I was up to...

    IMG_1339.JPG
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  17. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Apparently she approved as she promptly climbed up on the hearth and parked her butt without any encouragement from me.

    IMG_1362.JPG
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  18. RossB

    RossB Member

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    I figured I would let it burn for a while and then let it go out. That way I could burn off some of the new paint and the coating of oil and paper on the griddle surface. It certainly made some smoke and I had the windows open for a while. I used a putty knife to scrape the oily paper off of the griddle and then I used a brass brush to scrub the surface clean. I had heard that I should have a series of small fires and heating/cooling cycles to break in the stove, but the owner's manual said nothing at all about a breaking-in process. It basically explained the controls and set you off to make fire.

    Everything seemed to be working just fine so I loaded a couple more pieces of dry pine scrap just to see what would happen.

    My daughter and the dog sure seemed happy.

    IMG_1366.JPG

    After an hour or so of burning, the smoke was cleared out of the room and the stove seemed to be performing perfectly. I dropped a couple small splits of hardwood in just to see what would happen. Went outside to check the chimney and there was zero smoke coming out of it...just waves of heat distorting the air around the cap. Maybe I'd let it go a little bit longer.

    I kept it going this way for a couple more hours...dropping in a single split or two every hour just to keep it going. I was expecting some sort of drama...maybe some expansion noise...some burning paint...something. Nothing. Just fire. I played with the damper a bit to see if I could see a noticeable difference between open and closed...definitely. You can see the fire change before your eyes as you slide the damper open or closed. That's comforting. I checked the outside air kit to see if there was a strong draw...not really. I was in and out of the house...under the stove...behind it...checking everything I could think of. The fire just kept burning steadily.

    Every time I came back into the house, I found the dog in various poses by the hearth.

    IMG_1368.JPG
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  19. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

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    The dogs to like the heat as much as we do! Nice install. I've got an OLD VC stove that I have enjoyed and it came with the house. But from the same things you read here, i think my next stove will be something else and this stove is definitely a possibility.
  20. RossB

    RossB Member

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    2:00 and my mother showed up to watch the children while we went furniture shopping. At this point, I put half a dozen pieces of hardwood in and told my mother to just let it burn down while we were out. The stove was not smoking in any way, the surrounding surfaces were faring just fine, and everything seemed to be picture perfect. She could just ignore it. My parents had burned wood my entire life so she wasn't particularly concerned about the stove burning down the house, but she was completely unfamiliar with these new fangled baffles and dampers and such. I set it to medium and we left.

    .The wife and I have been deadlocked for a couple weeks over new furniture for this room. As usual, she wanted stylish and "country" while I just want to be comfortable. I've lost this battle consistently for more than 15 years now and we have a house full of really nice...really uncomfortable...furniture to prove it. Things like "mission" love seats with hard wood arms that you can't possibly rest your head on or dainty sofas that you can't possibly stretch out for a nap on. She hates anything that ranks higher in comfort and function than aesthetic. I just want to sit and put my feet up. I always lose. So instead of sitting in the livng room to watch TV at night, I just go to my bed where I can at least put my feet up.

    We hit a few furniture stores, including the super high end joint that she loves where they sell $10,000 sofas and $2500 chairs. Thank God we didn't buy anything. At one store, I saw a sectional with 3 recliners, cup holders, and soft arms just made for napping. It called out to me in a Siren's song..."Come...relax with me...have a snack...watch a little Top Gear...forget your troubles"...but she quickly dismissed it and dragged me away kicking and screaming.

    We went out to dinner and discussed the issue a bit while waiting for our meals. I told her that I was sick of uncomfortable furniture...pointed out all out all of the work I've done to this house over the years...reminded her of all the wood I would have to cut and haul just to keep her warm all winter.

    And then, in a moment of weakness, she cracked...

    "If that's the one you want, get it."

    WooHoo! An hour later and I'm now the proud owner of this monstrosity!

    IMG_1370.JPG
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  21. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Riding high on my furniture store triumph, we did a little Christmas shopping and didn't make it home until about 7:00PM. We had been gone for 5 hours so I was pretty sure that the fire would be nothing but a few ashes at this point. I walked in the front door and was smacked in the face with a wave of warm air...much warmer than ever before. I came in and found my mother and daughter camped out on the floor by the hearth...along with my silly dog. The fire was burning strong as my mother had been feeding it while we were gone. The room with the stove is a perfect 80 degrees and the rest of the first floor is in the neighborhood of 77-78. The ceiling fans are on high and the entire place is straight up cozy. The house has never been this warm in the month of December - never.

    Apparently, my mother, undaunted by the new equipment, managed to bring in some wood and get it into the stove. I noticed the glass is smoked up a bit, but otherwise everything looks just fine. She's clearly on board with the new arrangement.

    IMG_1377.JPG
  22. RossB

    RossB Member

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    So here I sit in the dark...in shorts and a t-shirt...typing away on the laptop and enjoying the flames dancing behind the glass...sipping some Jaegermeister Spice stuff that I just found at the store. I'd really like to thank everyone who contributed to this exact moment over the last month or so...helpful information...encouragement...varied opinions...vendor information...everything. I couldn't be happier with the results.

    I now wield fire like a Norse god...I no longer kneel before my oil pumping masters. ( :

    I'm noticing that the stove is quite miserly when it comes to wood. When I run the fireplace, I usually burn 8-10 6"x20" pieces per hour all day and night and then I'll throw a 12" diameter full log on around bed time in hopes of finding enough embers to kick it off again in the morning. That's easily 60 good-sized pieces of wood in a single night...way more if I burn it all day long. I usually put 3 cord thorugh the fireplace just in ambience fires that hardly generate heat and probably suck more air up the chimney after the fire has died down and the flue is wide open. Now my house is hot and I don't think I've burned more than a dozen real pieces of wood since noon. I've got the damper turned all the way down right now and while there are all sorts of neat flames dancing around in the top of the fire box, the wood itself seems to be burning quite slowly. I'm hopeful that this is going to be a much more efficent use of wood.
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  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Cleaner more efficient fuel burning is what EPA stoves are about. You are going to like this stove. It is a good performer. With the new furniture, consider picking up a nice hearth rug or bed for the dog to lie on in front of the hearth.
  24. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Awesome - congrats on a great job....
  25. RossB

    RossB Member

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    Night 1 Results:

    Around 10:00 PM - loaded 4 or 5 pieces into the stove...nothing very big...all split pieces...no logs...enough to mostly fill the stove. The room is about 82 an the rest of the first floor is about 80. I turned the damper all the way down and then open just a bit. Brought in a second armful of wood for the morning.

    4:00 AM - Got up to see if it had gone out. Bedroom is 68 degrees despite the thermostat set at 62 and the closed door. Downstairs is 77 degrees on both thermostats - also set at 62. There's still a bed of fat coals covering the bottom of the stove..glowing bright and hot. I leveled the coals and loaded another 4 pieces into the stove...opened the damper and waited a bit for the wood to catch fire...turned the damper back down and now I'm going back to bed. So far so good! My house has never been this warm in the month of December.
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